What To Ask During An Informational Interview – Informational interviews are key to expanding your network and opening you up to unexpected job opportunities. Here are 40+ questions to ask in your next job interview.
Instead, it’s an opportunity to meet someone you love (or someone whose work you love) to hear their story.
What To Ask During An Informational Interview
Click on their own. Informational interviews are a wonderful way to get a complete picture of an industry, company or position to determine if it’s a good fit for you.
Infographic] Understanding Informational Interviews
Author John Lees notes in the Harvard Business Review that informational interviews are beneficial in several ways. He claims they provide a way to “test your thinking” about your understanding of a space or business.
What’s more, he adds, they provide “a way to introduce yourself in a hidden job market… That visibility can put you on the shortlist instantly, even if the job isn’t advertised” — or even if it isn’t. job search.
This means that if done right, informational interviews help you learn – but they also help you expand your professional network (and yes, many people have received job offers because of informational interviews they’ve done). So we are talking about a win-win situation here.
But if someone has agreed to meet you for coffee, what questions should you ask in an informational interview? If someone has agreed to meet you, you definitely want to come prepared.
How To Ask For An Information Interview
Below we have explained how to prepare. We handle everything from contacting your prospective interviewer to ending the process with a thank you note.
Plus, we’ve rounded up 15 of our favorite informational interview questions, along with tips for writing specific questions for each meeting. And as an added bonus, we’ve added some extra questions for you to ask yourself if you two will make it all the way in the end!
If you want to do an informational interview but feel intimidated about how to get started, here are our tips. For more information on exactly what needs to be done, we’ve outlined a five-step process (including a cool email template) here.
If you are reading this, you may already have someone in mind that you would like to interview. If you’re hoping to find someone to expand your network or learn about a role you’re interested in, start with research.
Informational Interview Assignment
Search for your “dream” companies and read the job titles. So do a quick Internet search (we recommend digging into LinkedIn and Twitter) to learn more about this person’s career path
This can be the scariest part, but don’t stress—we’ve got a template for that. Now that you have thoroughly researched your interviewee, you should have informational tools to use when explaining why you would like to meet with them for an informational interview. This makes a bland email more personal. and increases the likelihood that he will be willing to take the time to meet.
Also, be sure to be specific when contacting this person. Assume that he is busy and realize that he is doing you a favor by taking the time to meet you. (And keep track while you’re in the interview itself.)
Don’t go into this meeting unprepared. It can look unprofessional and you want to make a good first impression here.
Great Informational Interview Questions To Choose From
Instead, before your interview, identify your learning objective for the meeting. The research you have done about this person should help you compare their experiences.
This brings us to our final point. Prepare interview questions in advance so you can keep the meeting on target, appear professional and show the interviewer that you’ve done your homework. In that sense, let’s answer these questions directly.
Here are some general questions that should work well, regardless of the person’s industry or profession. Make sure it’s relevant to the person by doing extensive research about their job beforehand.
Top tip: John Lees says don’t make the interviewer feel like you’re “scrutinizing” them. We agree: use these questions as a way to guide the conversation, but try not to feel like you’re burning them.
How To Ask For An Informational Interview By Telephone
The news interview is about them, not you, so this is always the best place to start. This will set the tone; they will understand that you are here to learn from them.
Why you ask: By asking this question, you can learn about the person’s work history. If you are interested in their role or similar, their answers can help you find your way into this position. For example, if he notices that he is learning some skill that he has not yet learned, you might consider exploring it.
What to look for in a response: Look for ways you can emulate their career path, assuming you’re interested in a similar role or company. Their educational path, career path, and other anecdotes can help you decide the best path for yourself. If he mentions specific professional development skills you need for the role (such as specific degrees, certifications or skills), write them down.
You can also include follow-up questions: What did you learn there that will help you today? This question is meant to help you get an idea of where to start if you’re new to the scene, but it’s also a great way to learn more about how linear (or not) this person’s life has been.
The Perfect Informational Interview Template: A 5 Step Guide
Why you’re asking: If you’re taking this informational interview, chances are you’re hoping to enter a new career path or you’re starting a career. Either way, you can learn a lot from this person’s early work experience.
What to look for in the answer: Listen for clues about what helped him best in serving his current position. Then think about how your career path started (or is starting) and whether it will lead you to the final role you hope for.
This is the best chance to see what every day is like for the role you love. If he says he works 14-hour days and you don’t want to do that, you can start looking at other people’s roles.
Why you ask: Your job is a big part of your life, and your satisfaction with your job can directly affect your overall happiness. We don’t think your job should be your be-all, end-all, but of course you want to love what you spend most of your time doing.
Five Proven Informational Interview Email Templates
What to look for in the answer: Think through your wishes for your future lifestyle. If a 14-hour workday feels like a killer to you, now you know. On the other hand, if it sounds exciting to you, you know what to expect and can start working on it.
Maybe the projects he’s working on are interesting, so you’ll want to know what he’s been working on. In addition, it gives you a good sense of the role priorities in the company.
Why you ask: This question can make the person talk in detail about his current job and its nuances. From this question, you can learn about their team and the details of their role—plus, you’ll learn what a real project in that role looks like.
What to look for in an answer: Does the project he describes sound interesting to you? Does the team setting he mentions sound like a good fit for your skills and personality? You will have a good idea of what the current job is like, which will help you decide if it is right for you or not.
Sample Questions To Ask During An Informational Interview
Although this question is similar to #4, the answer may not be. What this person enjoys about their work may be completely unexpected. It’s a great way to get him to open up more.
Why you ask: Like the previous question, this one allows you to see more clearly the ins and outs of a position or company.
What to look for in the answer: Listen to the things you really like. If they say they enjoy the flexibility of their role and a flexible work environment is high on your priority list, then fine! If they mention that they enjoy a team environment and you know that you thrive in a more introspective environment, then you have that information.
After all, an informational interview is an informal conversation. But if the person starts talking about something they really like (“I really like everything I do”), you can change the question to what surprised them instead. Most people have an answer for that.
Uga Career Center
Why you’re asking: You want to learn everything you can about the position, company, or industry you’re interested in, including (or maybe especially!) its negative aspects. That way, you know all that it entails, and you can proceed without rose colored glasses.
What to look for in the answer: Honesty! Even if he’s not comfortable mentioning any negative aspects of the job or the company, he’ll likely tell you some aspects that he found challenging or surprising. You can then take this information and use it for your own preferences.
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